For over 1500 years Rome was without a church dedicated to St. Patrick. However, on the 1st of February 1888 this was rectified and the foundation stone of the present church was laid. The man with the dream was Fr. Patrick Glynn, an Augustinian from Limerick, Ireland, who was based in the Augustinian Church of Santa Maria in Posterula. However, it took another 23 years before the church in Rome was completed and opened on St. Patrick’s Day, in 1911. The mosaic which dominates the sanctuary and the church, is the work of Rodolfo Villani (1929) depicting St. Patrick converting the High King Laoghaire at Tara, using the shamrock to explain the Trinity. The gold banner inscription “Ut Christiani Ita et Romani Sitis” (“Be ye Christians as those of the Roman Church”) – is a quote taken from the writings of St. Patrick.
On the left side of the main altar is the Sacred Heart altar with a beautiful mosaic of the Last Supper by Galimberti (1942). On the right side of the main altar is Our Lady’s altar with the painting of Our Lady of Grace. This painting is from the 14th century and is painted on slate. In 1955, layers of paint from previous restorations were removed to reveal the original. This painting has been a focus of devotion for Augustinians for more than two centuries, having come to them from the church of San Biagio in Tinta which was just around the corner from their old church of Santa Maria in Posterula.
In 1922 the American Parish of Rome was established at the Church of Santa Susanna not far from St. Patrick’s. It was staffed by the Paulist Fathers, an American Community of Priests from the United States founded in 1858. Santa Susanna has now been closed for over five years, for many reasons, and the American community had been celebrating Masses, Weddings, First Communions, Confirmations, Baptisms and Funerals at four neighboring churches. At the beginning the Vatican Secretary of State, the Vicariate (Diocese) of Rome and other Vatican Congregations were trying to help the Paulist Fathers and the American parish to return to Santa Susanna. However, the Cistercian Monastery which owns the Church was opposed to the return. At the same time, the Irish Augustinians had decided to leave Rome and therefore not continue their ministry at St. Patrick’s Church on Via Boncompagni. They own the Church (and still do) and the surrounding properties but were unsure of what to do with the Church when they were no longer here.
So the Secretary of State put the two communities together. Even though we already knew each other, we began exploring the possibility of St. Patrick’s becoming the new church for Catholic Americans in Rome. Through the great generosity and hospitality of the Augustinians, we concluded the negotiations for the Paulist Fathers to lease St. Patrick’s Church (and some office and meeting space below) from the Augustinians. Since August 1, 2017, we are St. Patrick’s Catholic American Community of Rome. However, ALL English speakers are welcome to participate in all of our services and ministries, as we offered at Santa Susanna. All of our Masses will be in English.